Po­lice de­tain pos­si­ble mar­ket ram­page ac­com­plice


BER­LIN | Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors said Wed­nes­day that they have de­tained a Tu­nisian man they think may have been in­volved in last week’s truck at­tack on a Christ­mas mar­ket in Ber­lin.

The 40-year-old, who wasn’t iden­ti­fied, was de­tained in Ber­lin dur­ing a search of his home and busi­ness, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said.

The man’s tele­phone num­ber was saved in the cell­phone of Anis Amri, a fel­low Tu­nisian be­lieved to have driven a truck into the mar­ket on Dec. 19. Amri, 24, was killed in a shootout with Ital­ian po­lice in a sub­urb of Mi­lan early Fri­day. Pros­e­cu­tors said in a state­ment that “fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­di­cate that [the sus­pect] may have been in­volved in the at­tack.”

Twelve peo­ple died and dozens more were in­jured in the truck at­tack. The Is­lamic State group has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Pros­e­cu­tors have un­til Thurs­day evening to de­ter­mine whether the case against the 40-year-old is strong enough for them to seek a for­mal ar­rest war­rant. That would al­low them to keep him in cus­tody pend­ing pos­si­ble charges.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are try­ing to de­ter­mine whether Amri had a sup­port net­work in plan­ning and car­ry­ing out the at­tack, and in flee­ing Ber­lin. They’re also try­ing to piece to­gether the route he took from Ber­lin to Mi­lan.

Ital­ian po­lice have said Amri trav­eled through France, and French au­thor­i­ties said on Tues­day that he made a stop in the eastern French city of Lyon.

On Wed­nes­day, Dutch au­thor­i­ties said it ap­peared Amri first had fled through the Nether­lands, Ger­many’s west­ern neigh­bor. Jirko Patist, a spokesman for the Dutch na­tional pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, said “highly likely” that Amri had been in Ni­jmegen, in the eastern Nether­lands, dur­ing his jour­ney from Ber­lin to Mi­lan.

Ac­cord­ing to Ital­ian po­lice, Amri also had a pocket knife and a few hundred euros in cash in a back­pack that he was car­ry­ing when of­fi­cers on a rou­tine pa­trol stopped him to ask for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in the Mi­lan sub­urb of Sesto San Gio­vanni on Fri­day. He also car­ried a .22 pis­tol that he then used to shoot a po­lice of­fi­cer, hit­ting him in the shoul­der.

The Ital­ian in­ves­ti­ga­tor said the weapon ap­peared to be the same one used in Ger­many to kill the Pol­ish driver of the truck that was com­man­deered for the Christ­mas mar­ket at­tack, but that fi­nal bal­lis­tic tests were still be­ing car­ried out.

The body of the Pol­ish driver, Lukasz Ur­ban, was re­turned to Poland on Tues­day, said Al­doma Lema, a spokes­woman for pros­e­cu­tors in the Pol­ish city of Szczecin. There has been spec­u­la­tion over whether Ur­ban still was alive at the time of the at­tack and strug­gled with Amri. His body was found in the truck’s cab.

Ger­man me­dia also re­ported Wed­nes­day that in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve an emer­gency brak­ing sys­tem in the truck may have pre­vented more deaths.

Daily Sued­deutsche Zeitung and public broad­caster NDR cited un­named of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion say­ing the trac­tor unit had a mech­a­nism that au­to­mat­i­cally slams the brakes when a col­li­sion is de­tected.

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